Spelunker HD Review (PSN)

Game Review: Spelunker HD
Release: November 23, 2010
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Tozai, Inc.
Available Platforms: PlayStation Network
Players: 1-6
MSRP: $9.99
ESRB Rating: E

Spelunker is the weakest action hero of all time! Everything from a small fall to bat guano can take him out. He won’t be stopped by such pitfalls, though, as he’s out to dig as deep as he can, and find all the treasure below the surface. In this HD remake, can he get a good look at everything under the land?

It’s easy to have forgotten Spelunker. The franchise had it’s original adventures in the 80’s on the NES, Commodore 64, and the like. In an era when the Super Mario Bros. had evolved past dying from a small fall in Donkey Kong to using massive springs to launch across chunks of land, only to fall safely from the clouds, Spelunker is ridiculously weak. Small falls from ropes, ledges, and ladders instantly take out the hero. While Mario might get hurt from the flames of his hated enemy, Spelunker can’t survive bat droppings. Spelunker HD takes the gameplay from this era, throws on an optional HD redesigned mode, adds online combat, but keeps the hero himself weak.

The spelunker tackles the caves with various weaponry; much like any weakling, he requires good defenses. A flare gun can scare away bats (but burn you on the way down), bombs can destroy walls and objects (and the hero), and your constantly-depleting air tank can scare away ghosts. Additionally, instead of going it alone, you can either team up or challenge online gamers in a multiplayer mode, both with the original graphic style or the remixed one, and a rope-assist mode should cut down on the deaths from small falls.

The game is offensively hard. We’re talking about going back to 1985 with a bag of quarters to the arcade, hoping to beat it. The original had less than a dozen levels, but this iteration has 100 levels to tackle. Basically, this game is a quality challenge; you gain a definite feeling of success once you get your groove down and go through the levels without flaw.

This is a byproduct of the game’s (lack of) reputation; at no time were we able to find opponents online, therefore we can’t exactly review that feature. Supposedly and theoretically, an online component would greatly expand the gameplay. The remixed graphics are weak and uninspired, feeling more like a render of what it could have been and not a finished product. Definitely stick with the classic graphics; if anything, it’s easier to see the specific pixels for tight jumps.

Spelunker HD is a great tackle on an old franchise, and is definitely worth $10 worth of quarters. If you’re up for the challenge, definitely dive into the Earth and dig up what you can. Make sure to be careful and avoid the bats, though.
– Incredibly difficult but rewarding
– Lack of online competitors eliminates one mode
– Weak new graphics are beaten by classic

Final Score
7 out of 10

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